Updated: Feb 26
Now that the fireworks have concluded, toasts have been made to celebrate the New Year and we all have to get used to writing the new date on documents, it is a great time to look forward to the next twelve months.
So many people have set a course to fulfill their New Year’s resolution. Unfortunately, the majority of people will ditch the effort by February and approximately 5% of individuals will succeed to accomplish their resolution.
Why is this? Considering Merriam-Webster’s defines resolution as “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.” it may be the perception that a resolution is too big or it does not seem exciting to ring in the New Year thinking about an old problem that still needs “solving.”
Then why do 5% of New Year’s resolutions succeed? One simple difference is that these people framed their resolution differently. They see the resolution as an opportunity, not a problem.
They look at the glass as half full and not half empty. They figure out how to fill the glass more and don’t focus on why it is empty at all. They take the time to reflect on what they really want and break down what the plan should be. Spending a little time up front saves them time and helps these individuals to set a plan in motion without getting overwhelmed and quitting.
So what does this have to do with meeting your career goals? Of course, resolutions are an opportunity to reflect on what we want to accomplish. As the New Year is rolling in, it is a time when companies and individuals are setting professional goals too. There are many things we can do to set ourselves up for success and to help us enjoy our careers.
If you have had a burning desire to accomplish something new in your career, you are frequently feeling like you are stuck in a rut or you wonder if you are on track; the following questions can help frame the picture for you.
As you look back at last year to reflect and look forward to determine what you want in this new year, ask yourself the following questions.
What personal career and company goals were met during the last 12 months?
Were they goals you anticipated you would accomplish?
Did you have an opportunity to accomplish more than expected?
What are your professional goals? What do you want to accomplish this year in your career?
Does your current company’s mission align with your goals?
Is the company going in the direction you are excited to be a part of? If not, is the company going through a challenge where you can make a difference and you want to be a part of the team to assist with this?
Do you feel supported in your work? Do you have the right tools and right leaders or mentors?
Do you know where you stand in the company, team and potential succession plan?
What are your strengths and are you using them?
Give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate your accomplishments. After you have told yourself how amazing you are, think about the areas where you can continue to grow and what that will look like when you attain those skills. Take the excitements, the growth opportunities and further evaluate if you will continue to be excited about the path you are on or if you need to take an off ramp for a new adventure or change of scenery through new career options?
No matter what observation you make, it is important that our careers balance with our personal aspirations. Since personal aspirations drive career aspirations it is important to ask yourself a couple more questions. This can be used to drive your current career or to design your next career endeavor. First take a moment to step out of “career brain” and into the “me brain.”
What I mean by “career brain” is this: Have you ever noticed when you go to events or parties and one of the first questions we are asked is “what do you do?” Yes, what we do is a part of us, but it does not define us. Here is a way to step away from any “boxes” created in your mind to separate “what we do” from “who we are or want to be.”
If you were able to start from a place where you had no limits in your career what would you do? Also, forget about obligations for a moment (such as a mortgage, family, etc.). Really spend time thinking about just yourself.
If the last question was challenging ask yourself: If this was like the movie “Ground Hog Day” and you could go back to the point where you started working, what would you do over or what tweaks would you make to get the result you ultimately want?
What value do you create that gets you excited ( really great technology, services that make your clients lives better, a company that runs smoothly and excels, etc.)
Are you exchanging time for money or are you learning and excited about the work and people you interact with?
Do you go home realizing you made a difference for your client, company and yourself? If not, how would you make a difference?
Did you learn that there are things that you want but have not done yet or things you enjoy that have not been available to you? If your current role does not provide you with an opportunity to accomplish these personal aspirations, it is a good time to reflect and see if you want to expand your responsibilities at work or incorporate them in your personal life.
You may be thinking this is great, but what does this really mean and of course everyone has limits? It is true some people place limits on themselves, however other don't. Think about the lack of limits for people that worked hard and have created immense value for the world like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and more. Their products, services, and the teams they built have actually changed lives globally and the world would be different without these innovations.
By spending time going through this exercise you will set a foundation for successfully meeting your career goals the new year. This will help you to simplify your year and spend energy on the things you want to accomplish and not fill your time (or thoughts) with things that don’t serve you or your career.